One more week to go and we are in full planning mode! Jackson and I will be logging our adventures for all who’d like to follow along. I’ll be covering the adult perspective while Jackson will share the teenagers point of view.

We are a few days from our flight and I am very excited for this trip. This is my first time leaving the continent and probably the longest trip I’ve gone on. I am a little nervous because everything is so unfamiliar and strange to me, but I hope it will be an enjoyable experience in the end


The big day has finally arrived! I’ve put so much time into research and planning and spreadsheets all to ensure that everyone has the perfect trip. \240Of course there is no such thing as perfect and there is always a fine line with over planning. \240However, I know my family pretty well by now and it is always better to go in with a rough plan and be flexible than to find ourselves in a new place tired, hungry, and overwhelmed by too many choices. \240That is a recipe for disaster right there!

We are now at the airport getting Jackson his last minute Chick Fil A fix. Hopefully there are more interesting culinary adventures ahead!

That first leg was pretty painless. \240We’ve been flying Southwest so long I forgot what it is like to actually have new release movies, charging stations, and a little bit of leg room! Now the wait for the next one...

New York

We have just landed after our first flight to New York, I am not sure if I will be able to sleep on the next flight. This is my first experience with a flight this long, so hopefully it goes smoothly.


Rambla de Catalunya, 44, 08007 Barcelona, Spain

This picture pretty much sums it up. \240It was a long flight and the kids aren’t used to sleeping in such tight quarters so they didn’t get much rest. \240But we are here! \240The weather in Barcelona is beautiful and we have parked ourselves at a little outdoor cafe to enjoy some churros and recharge!

Carrer d'AragΓ³, 269, 08007 Barcelona, Spain

We are finally checked in to the Apartments Sixty Four here in the Eixample neighborhood of Barcelona. \240We couldn’t check in until nearly 3 so we spent a few hours getting some fresh air and exploring Las Ramblas. It was all a blur we are so tired so I’m sure we will be back there again another day. \240We’ve all agreed on a short nap and then an attempt at a late dinner later on....we’ll see!

Rambla de Catalunya, 17, 08007 Barcelona, Spain

Those jet lagged kids are sleeping through dinner. More tapas for us!

@ Ciudad Condal


Our flight was a interesting experience, I had trouble sleeping and It was a very difficult flight. But besides that, Barcelona is extremely beautiful and our hotel is very nice. We are in the middle of the city and can access a lot. We are staying at SixtyFour apartments. I am so far happy with our experience in Barcelona.

Carrer de Josep Pla, 32, 08019 Barcelona, Spain

After a good nights rest I woke up at 6AM today to find Braden had been up already for 3 hours. He was alert and talking and ready to take on the day! \240He had also raided the fridge in the night of all the snacks we had bought the night before including the Milka cookies (like Kit Kats) and the bikini sandwiches (pressed ham & cheese croissants). Oh well, at least he’s recovered. \240I asked him for a few more hours of sleep and then we grabbed some cappuccino together in the cafe on the corner. \240It was nice having some one on one time with him and we planned our day to include a trip to the mall for some “fancy European threads”.

After we got the rest of the gang up and out, we took a cab over to Diagonal Del Mar in search of clothing with English phrases that make no sense. \240This seems to be a popular trend we have observed in our people watching....

The shopping trip was productive and we knew it was time to head out for lunch but couldn’t avoid the usual drama of where to go and how to get there. \240The kids had reached hangry phase pretty quickly which put us all on edge. \240We finally landed on a short cab ride to O’Principe Pizzaria which had amazing wood fired pizza’s and fresh pasta.

It was the break we all needed before our tour of La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell. \240Gotta get our Gaudi fix!

We did a Gaudi tour this afternoon that included both La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell. The tour guide for Sagrada was very informative and I loved it. I think the kids put up with it for my sake but hopefully some of those interesting facts sunk in. It was a truly amazing place and I can’t wait to see it finished some day.

After the church we took the tour bus on to Park Güell. I think at a more quiet time I would have enjoyed it more. The crowds and some construction/renovation took away from the overall experience but I don’t regret seeing it.

After a long day the kids were ready to chill out in the apartment for dinner. They heard McDonalds was a different experience in other countries so we picked them up some take out. McCroquetas anyone??

Chris and I opted for a more elegant dinner and more tapas at Guadim near the apartment. Tomorrow is a good day to rest and sleep in!

Carrer d'AragΓ³, 284, 08009 Barcelona, Spain

We are all finally on Barcelona time and slept in until noon today. \240We decided on a lunch spot near the apartment called CocoVail Beer Hall which was an American pub type place. \240Not the most adventurous choice but it had something for everyone on the menu. It had a cool vibe with soccer on the TV’s and trivia to pass the time while we waited for our food. \240

From here we decided to separate as we wanted to head back towards Las Ramblas and the kids wanted to just explore the neighborhood and relax at the apt.

Chris and I headed over to La Boqueria which was the foodie equivalent of Disney World. \240They had everything from bread to barnacles and everything in between. \240

Chris and I stopped for a rest at a nearby cafe while he pondered what we should get...

We checked on the kids via text only to find they were safely in the apartment fighting over the temperature of the air conditioner. Jackson gave us visual proof of Braden blocking the thermostat. \240We realized we should have stayed out longer 😒.


Our tour yesterday was an interesting experience. The Sagrada Familia was spectacular and amazing, but our tour wasn’t. We put on headphones and a guy told us every single fact about the building. I was incredibly bored and didn’t pay too much attention to the facts. This type of thing would only appeal to people who would like to know every little fact about the place but for others not so much. I reccommend just going to see the place and take your own time with it.

Carrer de València, 292, 08009 Barcelona, Spain

We had an amazing final night dinner at 9 Reinas.

It’s time to say farewell to Barcelona and board the Disney Magic for our Mediterranean cruise! The ship feels like a little bit of home as we know the routine and the familiar food (Mickey waffles!).


After a long day of wine tasting we opted to enjoy sail away with our favorite room service \240“All Hands on Deck” cheese plate on the balcony.

We rejoined the kids for dinner at Animators Palette. The have a nice show where the cartoons on the walls \240come to life by the end of the dinner. Mickey made an appearance at the end and while my kids have outgrown all things Mickey, I still managed to sneak in a few shots ; )

Route de Jouques, 83560 Rians, France

What better way is there to spend Fathers Day then wine tasting in the south of France? The kids are enjoying the ship and their sleep while Chris and I spend the day \240with Provence Wine Tours. Our first stop was Chateu Vignelaure near Aix en Provence.

3 Rue Isolette, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France

Next stop was lunch. Amazing crepes and wraps in Aix en Provence...

Avenue CΓ©zanne, 13114 Puyloubier, France

A final stop of wine tasting

The winery greeter Elliott: )


Bonjour! Today is a highlights tour of Monaco and Monte Carlo so gotta load up on those Mickey waffles ; )

We took a tender to Ville Franche Sur Mer and then a tour bus along the coast to Monaco as a first stop.

Once in Monaco we rode lots of elevators and escalators to the Main Street. We got a brief overview of the area and a tour of the church where \240Princes are married and buried. Churches aren’t a big favorite for the kids so luckily we were then given an hour to explore on our own. We found a nice pizzeria with the World Cup playing on the patio TV. After a little souvenir shopping and pics we were ready to head back to the bus.

From there we headed on to Monte Carlo. It was hot and humid so walking the steep streets to the casino was not much fun but the views below were amazing. We opted to get a table at a nearby cafe for some overpriced drinks and good people watching. The cafe provided great views of all the exotic cars driving by.

Overall it was a great day but we are ready for some rest and the drink of the day by the pool!


This is the first time Disney is stopping at the port of Genoa. There were not many excursion options and not even a mention in the Rick Steves travel guide. Given all this, we decided to just sleep in and explore the port on our own for lunch.

I used the morning to visit the spa for a Fire & Ice mani/pedi and then wrangled the troops off the boat for Genoa.

For anyone considering this port in the future I have two words, DONT BOTHER!

It was the most scared I have ever been for my safety and belongings! It was dirty, sketchy, and smelly. We found a place for lunch and realized we needed to get back on the boat ASAP. Oh well, at least we have a good vacation story about how daddy led us down dangerous alleys filled with drug dealers and hookers!

We enjoyed the rest of the day on the ship. We loved the Tangled musical - absolutely Broadway quality!

Chris and I had dinner alone in Palo and got a great view of the sunset as we set sail for Livorno💗

Back at the room we were greeted with a doggie towel animal 🐶. I sure miss those cuties back home!

Piazza del Duomo, 5, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

The port of Livorno is about 75 minutes from Florence so it was an early start for us in the morning. \240I ordered some room service coffee and bagels and set our Mickey wake up call for 7. \240Everyone was surprisingly chipper and we were ready at 8 on the dot (even Braden!). \240The private transportation I had booked worked out perfectly as our driver was ready and waiting with a sign and we were on our way quickly. \240We had our tour booked to climb the Duomo for 10am so it was a tight schedule to begin with but unfortunately there was an accident on the highway which had delayed us even further. \240The driver handled it perfectly and insisted on calling our tour company to make sure they did not leave without us. \240After an animated exchange in Italian, the driver said we were all set and the tour guide was there waiting for us as soon as we pulled up.

I had done some research a few weeks before the trip and realized a bit too late what we were in for in terms of climbing the 463 steps to the top of the Duomo. \240You Tube was filled with clips of people huffing and puffing giving strong advisories of the steep climb and claustrophobic conditions. \240This one in particular nearly scared me off.

Chris opted to spend some time exploring while the kids and I decided to brave it - despite the warnings. \240We were so glad we did! \240The first flight was pretty rough but the guide was good at distracting us and stopped just enough to let us (me) catch our breath and prepare for the next set. \240The view at the top was worth all the hard work and we got some great photos and memories from the experience. \240Others were not so lucky as on the way down we passed a woman crying in full panic attack mode..I guess she didn’t research what she was getting into ahead of time!

I knew after the climb we would need a break and had made us a reservation at Il Gatto E La Volpe \240known for their great pizza and local specialties. \240It was an easy couple of blocks from the Duomo and was the perfect choice. \240The food and service were great and we took our time recharging over some vino and free wifi.

After lunch we attempted to use an app I had found called Sygic Travel which let you plot out all the places you wanted to see in a city and then gave you the most efficient walking tour to use. \240It tells you the distance between places and gives you a local map to view so that you can chose to move the order around and see the big picture of your itinerary. \240Unfortunately, it didn’t function very well offline and was even worse when it came to helping you navigate from one place to the other. \240I ended up just using the intinerary and the order I had pre-planned and had Chris do the navigating from place to place using Google maps. \240He did a nice job with that and again, I was surprised with how low stress the day was. \240We ended up getting to most of the sights I had planned including the Fountain if David,the Ponte Vecchio, and the Boar Fountain (to ensure our return to Florence some day).

We stopped often for a sit in the shade or drinks and the kids really enjoyed the slower pace (we did lots of leisurely shopping at little markets with leather goods and souvenirs). \240I picked up a cute leather handbag and Chris helped Jackson negotiate for a nice leather wallet. \240He’s said multiple times that the wallet was his favorite part of this day ; )

Again, having done my research, I know the best place to end the day was the Central Market area so that Chris could explore another foodie paradise and get lots of cheeses, wines, etc that he may want for the ship. \240I also heard there was good gelato in this area so I kept the kids going with the promise that there is ice cream at the end! \240The market was so much better than we expected as the whole top floor was fully updated with upscale food stalls (think tapas, wine tastings, gelato, pizza by the slice, any type of food you could imagine) with tables and chairs and free wifi! \240We again cooled off and enjoyed our ice cream while Chris explored.

We called our driver (after figuring out how to use the + sign on our iPhones) and found an easy pick up spot nearby to get back on the road.

I don’t think the kids could really grasp the amount of history in the things all around them in Florence but I’m glad they got to get the highlights and will perhaps come back on their own some day when they are ready to learn more.

We got back to the ship in plenty of time (and way before the hoards of people who took Disney excursions) so I used the quiet time on the ship to enjoy some wine on the balcony and do laundry runs down the hall (Disney parents turn into monsters when there are limited machines. \240I brought Chris for protection one time so I wouldn’t be hassled for cutting the invisible line for the dryer).

Braden was feeling a bit run down and wanted to go to bed early so the kids ordered room service chicken tenders and fries around 5:30 and then Braden crashed for the night. Jackson made it out with us to our normal dinner seating where we were treated to several brain teasers by the servers. \240We were stumped but it was fun trying to figure them out (hint - we gave these same brain teasers to Braden the next night and he solved them in seconds. Chris gave him new one’s which he also solved in seconds. That kid is crazy smart!). \240Anyway, after the long day of walking we all called it quits by 10 and realized that with relief tomorrow is a sea day!

Sea Day

The plan was to sleep as late and as much as possible, read some books, and get some pampering.

Mission accomplished! I got 1/3 of the way into the new Steven King book the Outsider and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine in the adult pool area. Chris and I got hot stone massages at the spa and let the “Drink of the Day” work it’s magic.

We didn’t see the kids much this day but we caught up for dinner and planned our final stop in Naples. Another amazing day...


Today was a stop in the port of Naples. Here I arranged for private transport which would take us to Pompeii, Sorrento, and Positano.

We had a little trouble finding the driver (who spoke only a little English) but once we did, it was a fairly short ride to Pompeii where we picked up our tour guide Mariella. Mariella spoke fluent English and provided so much great detail about what we were seeing but at just the right level to keep the kids attention.

I found it interesting that of 20,000 people, actually 18k fled by boat before the eruption. I couldn’t help but think about how those families must have struggled with that decision the way we did with hurricane Irma. What if it’s nothing? What if it gets worse? Evacuate or not? I also marveled at how much they have been able to uncover and preserve. Truly an amazing opportunity to see this in person...


After Pompeii, we headed toward Sorrento. Traffic was terrible and I already had a sense it might be more relaxing to spend more time in Sorrento then battle traffic all day trying to see a third location as well. We took a quick photo stop along the way to catch a shot of the beautiful coastline.

We made it to Sorrento right at lunch time and the kids were ready for some caffeine and more pizza. We stopped at the Red Lion where Chris and I enjoyed a bottle of wine from the region with grapes grown among the volcanic ash.

Jackson on the other hand enjoyed a gelato sundae : )

From there we strolled the streets with Mariella and learned about the town she grew up in (lucky girl!). We also got in some souvenir shopping...

Our last request was to dip our toes (or more) in to the Mediterranean and Mariella did not disappoint. The access to the beach was a winding trail that led down through the cliff side. Jackson and I brought our suits and had more passion for this activity than the others so Chris and Braden opted for a seat at the cafe while we headed down the winding path..

I’m used to beautiful beaches in Florida but this water was just heaven. So clear and cool with black sand of volcanic ash. I felt so at home here and the locals were very warm and friendly. I realized at that moment this was a place I would definitely like to come back to and spend more time. Once Jackson and I had our fill we began the long trek back up. There was a lift for 2 Euro but I was 1 short and after the Duomo I could handle it right??

We met back up with the group and headed back to port. Chris and I enjoyed our usual sail away spread and tried not to think about how we have to leave our beloved Disney Magic tomorrow ☹️. At least we have more adventures in Rome to look forward to!


Entry by Jackson (lost my free trial account):

We had a tour of Pompeii today with a wonderful tour guide I would recommend. I also recommend not going with a large group of people but just going with your family. Our tour was perfect because it was at whatever pace we wanted and could personalize it with our tour guide. After our share of information we decided to go to Serento. This was also a wonderful city with plenty of shops and places to eat. After a while of wandering we headed down to the beach and went in the water. The water was very nice because it was initially very cold and that felt nice on a hot day. I went deeper into the water and it was so clear and nice it felt amazing. I definitely recommend adding this into your plans for a trip immediately, But make sure to bring towels and enough euros to use the lift(1 per person). After this we went with our tour guide and driver back to the ship in a >1 hour car ride. This excursion was one of my favorites if not my favorite to do in Italy. It is good for all ages as the city is packed with everything. I really enjoyed my time here and wish to come back one day.


Sadly, today was the day for us to leave the Disney Magic. \240It can be a shock to the system as they want you out of your room by 8AM. \240We know the routine by now and carried our bags up to the breakfast buffet one last time before meeting our driver for the trip from port to Rome.

It was about an hour car ride past some beautiful farms and sunflower fields.

At last we arrived at Navona Garden Suites, a 16th century Roman palazzo and former noble residence. The room was not yet ready so we checked our bags and took the quick walk over to Campo de Fiori for some people watching and lunch. On our honeymoon 19 years ago, this is where Chris and I first discovered true Italian pizza with mozzarella di buffalo. \240Our pick this time was not quite the same but Jackson still says it was one of his favorites from the trip.

After lunch we got some fresh strawberries at a fruit stall and had a good laugh over the abundant supply of penis shaped pastas before heading back to the suite. \240We felt almost jet lagged and really hoped our room would be ready when we got back. \240Unfortunately this was not the case and we had quite a bit of a wait. \240At least it was in a nice interior courtyard with wifi and the boys were getting along playing on their new favorite app “Balloons”. \240This game saved us more than once on various lines and “boring” parts of the trip intinerary.

Once we got into the suite, we were very impressed. \240The architecture is very unique (with arches almost like a hobbits house) and we are the only suite with a private terrace overlooking the interior courtyard.

It was such an inviting space and we were so tired that we decided to change plans a bit (I can be flexible!). \240We abandoned the Haunted Rome tour and instead decided to take it easy. \240Chris took a nap while I took the kids to Piazza Navona in search of a Rome McDonalds and a deck of cards to play on the patio after dinner.

It turns out sugar packets make great currency for Blackjack ; )

Since the kids had already eaten, Chris and I finished out the night with a quiet dinner alone at a great restaurant a few doors down. \240Overall a relaxing first day in Rome...


Besides the charm, the suite also had comfy beds and we all slept in and got some much needed rest. \240Jackson was kind enough to run next door for some croissants and we had a nice breakfast on the patio. I planned our meals for the day and plotted our course across town for our afternoon bike tour.

For lunch we headed over a few blocks to a sandwich shop called Bread In. I honestly have never had a better sandwich in my life! \240I would come back to Rome just for this. \240We ate so fast I didn’t get pics but here is an idea of the menu..

Since we had time to kill after lunch, we took a quick walk toward the Vatican to show the kids the outside of St. Peter’s Basilica. The outside was just fine and they were very grateful I wasn’t asking them to stand in the very long line in the sun to get inside ; )

From there we caught a cab over to the bike shop for our afternoon electric bike tour of Rome.

This was by far the best excursion we took this trip. \240It was just the right amount of information about the sights but gave the kids an opportunity to burn off some energy at the same time. \240The electric motor was a cool feature as well and it allowed us to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. \240I think she said it was about 7 miles total in 3 hours. \240We got some great shots at various sights around the city including the Colosseam, Circus Maximus, the Roman Forum, the Roman Jewish Ghetto, Compo di Fiori and Travestere (this is where we had a nice break for gelato at one point).

After the tour we were all ready for a nice dinner and some rest. \240We landed at a great restaurant near our apartment called Saltimbocca. \240Like Barcelona, I think you could spend decades here in Rome and still not cover all the great restaurants there are to try! \240

For our final day in Rome, I had booked a VIP tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palantine Hill. \240It included a tour of the arena floor and areas below where the animals were kept. \240I intentionally booked all our tours in the afternoon knowing that we tend to like a more leisurely morning and sleep late on vacation. \240This was a good plan for this day in particular as we were quite sore from all the bike riding the day before!

Chris and I explored a bit on our own in the late morning and grabbed some Bread In take out for kids lunch. \240Around 2, we ventured over to our meeting spot near the Colosseum. \240The weather had been beautiful our entire trip with perfect temperatures and nothing but sunshine but for our final activity we had some storms rolling in. \240It was funny to see the street vendors coming out of the woodwork to sell umbrellas and ponchos.

Our guide through Walks of Italy was very entertaining and did his best to keep our spirits up through the occasional downpours. \240We didn’t mind the rain as it kept the temperature cool and it made the experience a bit more cozy. \240The only negative is that we didn’t see many of the stray cats that typically roam around the area.

Overall, a great tour but the kids definitely had information overload and were done with the headset stuff after 2 weeks. \240I don’t blame them but I’m glad they got the experience. \240I think some things must have made an impression as I later saw Braden watching the Gladiator on the plane home 😉.

Following the tour we opted to return to Piazza Navona for our final night dinner at Bernini.

It’s yucky thinking about packing and going home but a nice bottle of wine and a pizza always helps!